My small boys wake each morning and come directly to the kitchen table, still rubbing the sleep from their eyes. I send them to wash while I pile on their plate either eggs and potatoes and toast or oatmeal with honey and butter. Sometimes we have peanut butter toast and a sliced pear and once in a while, we treat ourselves to cold cereal when we’re just too lazy.
And then they load in the car and I drop them off at school where they shed their backpacks in the foyer and as soon as they think I’m not looking, beeline for the free breakfast program in the cafeteria.
“But it’s free,” they argue when I tell them to stop doing it.
I love that we live someplace where we have programs like this. I appreciate the availability of a free breakfast for those who may not get a hearty meal at home. And I’m aware of my community needs enough to realize it’s probably even more prevalent than I realize. Kids certainly need a good breakfast and some, no doubt, are not going to get it at home.
Mine are. And when they spew the words, “But it’s free…” it makes me cringe because it is not free. It has a value and somebody, somewhere, has paid for the product.
And maybe I’m putting too much thought into it. I mean, the food is there. There is plenty of it. It is being offered, and they want to partake. Why should I not just let them indulge?
Because free is not free. There is always a price to be paid by someone and just because something is free to me…does not mean there is not a cost.
And part of the price of the “free” breakfast is raising children who believe that just because something is ‘free’, that they need to have it. Children who take without questioning. Children who hold their hand out and expect someone to fill it. Children who do not understand the value of hard work or appreciate the satisfaction of earning what is given.
It’s just breakfast, some would say. A muffin and some juice. But it’s more than that. It’s about integrity. It’s about what’s right. It’s about understanding that hard work is the only path to take and there is no such thing as a free ride.
Not in this family.